How did you get into the industry?
I had a passion for design and costumes since I was little. But I grew up on Vancouver Island and went off to Ryerson—ended up doing my degree in marketing and design.
When I finished, I decided that I wanted to focus on costumes and the film industry. So I went to UBC, did a masters in fine art, focused on costume design for film and television, and then started the grunt work. I worked in theatre for years and then started working in commercials. From there, I started working in indie films, did everything form cleaning boots to volunteering for a couple years, and then I slowly started working my way up to assistant designer and finally branched out on my own. Now I’ve been costume designing for film and TV for 15 years.
What was the project you worked on that made you feel like you had made it in the industry?
I think for me, it was working on Falling Skies, Steven Spielberg’s series. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. We were creating this post-apocalyptic world, and I got known afterwards as a sci-fi post-apocalyptic costume designer in Vancouver. I got to work with such an amazing cast and created these costumes with beautiful textures.
What were some of the challenges in working on The Stand, which was originally written by Stephen King in 1978 and then made into a miniseries in 1994?
Well, the book is around 1,200 pages. And, as we know, Stephen King is very explicit about his characters. He’s very elaborate; you always get a full description. So it was a challenge in taking these two pieces of art, and now modernizing it. We ended up creating visual boards for each of the characters, and made about 500 of them in total.
Once we get them right, we worked very closely with the actors. A lot of the cast have been involved with the project for over six years. And all of them had a passion and a feel for how they saw the character. I recently got a message from the guy who plays Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo, Jack Ryan, The Leftovers) and he said ‘Thank you so much, you helped me create the character, you need to feel good in what you’re wearing because that helps create the character.’
How involved was Stephen King?
He was behind the scenes. The creators Josh Boone, Benjamin Cavell and Taylor Elmore were heavily involved, obviously. But Steven King was behind the scenes—his son Owen King was one of the writers on the show and a producer.
Alexander Skarsgård plays the villain Randall Flagg and I remember Josh sitting me down, saying ‘Look, this is the one and only character Stephen King is going to have approval say on. And so I remember thinking ‘We have to nail this character.’
So Alex came in, and we had racks and racks of stuff. We designed a belt buckle for him with a scorpion on it, because Flagg is able to control different creatures—ravens, wolves, rats and scorpions. So it basically represents fear and intimidation and the ability to control. Worked with a designer, built these custom belt buckles with a piece of ruby jewel on them, and he came in and we did these fittings with him and nailed it on the first shot. That never happens. But Alexander is a beautiful man and it just worked.
We took photos and were all standing around waiting to hear and got the message back and that Stephen King said ‘We’ve got our Flagg.’
Have you found that working with bigger actors is sometimes more challenging or intimidating?
This cast is pretty much an A-list cast and the professionalism and the dedication is phenomenal. They’re all so dedicated to the project. For me, it’s about creating a character, and to be able to build a relationship with an actor is so important. I’m not intimidated; it’s all about creating the relationship. If I don’t do that, and gain their trust, the whole process doesn’t work. For me it was an honour and just such a fabulous cast to work with.